A former Chauffeur Attendant working for the city Landmarks Preservation Commission claimed that he was terminated less than three weeks after he made a complaint of harassment against his supervisor.
Chawntane Bracey began working as a Chauffeur Attendant for Landmarks Commissioner Sarah Carroll in November 2019. But when coronavirus cases surged and many city employees began working from home last March, Mr. Bracey said he was the only staffer at LPC who continuing coming into the office, where he sorted mail and ran errands such as delivering laptops to staff working remotely.
Alleges She Bullied Him
It was once staff began working remotely that he started routinely coming in contact with his supervisor, Director of Administration Margaret McMahon. He claimed that she engaged in behavior that made him feel bullied.
“She would follow me up and down the hallways,” Mr. Bracey said during a phone interview. He added that she began nitpicking details on his time-sheets and made jokes and comments that felt racial, such as, “We like the black guy.” At one point when he was bent over boxes, she said he “looked suspicious,” he alleged.
Mr. Bracey noted that he was one of the few non-white workers among LPC staff.
Ms. McMahon referred a request for comment to the commission's spokesperson.
In June, Mr. Bracey emailed Ms. McMahon stating that he was “starting to feel harassed and uncomfortable.”
“I am not sure what the issue you seem to have with me is…Whatever it may be I am undeserving of being judged by anything but my work,” he wrote.
Took Complaint Lightly?
When Mr. Bracey called Lily Fan, LPC’s Director of Enforcement about the behavior, he said she looked into the matter and three months later, recommended an adjustment to his tasks but nothing else changed, he stated.
When he approached the Managerial Employees Association, which advocates on its members' behalf but cannot formally represent them the way a union can, he was told they could not assist him because his paperwork to join the group was not submitted until November last year, five months after he first complained about the harassment. Mr. Bracey said that the paperwork was submitted by Ms. McMahon.
On March 10, he emailed Commissioner Carroll to see if she could assist in ending the alleged harassment, and a meeting was scheduled for March 29. But during that meeting, which was headed Ms. McMahon, Mr. Bracey was terminated effective that same day “without explanation,” he said.
“I’ve never been written up, never been late, never been absent, nothing,” he said. “I did everything that was asked of me. While everyone was in the comfort of their homes, I was the only one on the front lines.”
'Sought Help, Got Fired'
Mr. Bracey added that his termination was especially hurtful because “I felt comfortable enough to ask the Commissioner for help, and then weeks later I got fired.”
He believed his termination was retaliation for speaking out against his supervisor.
“It feels like they got the problem out of the way rather than addressing it,” he said.
LPC did not respond when asked why it chose to dismiss Mr. Bracey.
"The agency complied with all relevant laws and procedures and stands by its decision to terminate his employment,” a spokesperson said.